Anatomy of a Handpiece: Understanding Handpiece Maintenance and Repairs

A Peer-Reviewed Publication Written by Glenn Williams, BS

Abstract

Today’s clinician is extremely dependent on the handpiece to sustain a smooth-running practice. The handpiece is an incredibly sophisticated device that requires a diligent maintenance protocol to keep it running properly and safely. Routine, repeated heat sterilization has the most adverse effect on the dental handpiece. Perhaps due to this dependency on handpieces, combined with the damage resulting from repeated routine sterilization and the need for consistent maintenance, the handpiece has earned an undeserved reputation for excessive breakdowns. The dental team can keep handpieces functioning smoothly longer, and maximize the return on the significant investment the dentist has made in handpiece technology, through appropriate maintenance procedures. Careful selection from repair options is also required.

Educational Objectives:

At the conclusion of this educational activity, participants will be able to:

1. List and describe the major components of air-driven high-speed handpieces and electric handpieces

2. List and describe the main differences between air-driven high-speed handpieces and electric handpieces

3. List and describe the signs of failure for air-driven and electric handpieces

4. List and describe the maintenance steps for air-driven handpieces

5. List and describe the options for repair/rebuild of air-driven handpieces and considerations in selecting one.

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